Health Workers Begin Nationwide Strike

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

Following the stalemate at its meeting with the federal government, the umbrella body of health workers, Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), has asked its members to begin a nationwide strike with effect from last midnight.

This was the decision reached after its expanded National Executive Council meeting held on Saturday.

The union said the strike was due to the failure of the federal government to meet its demands.

JOHESU wrote to the federal government at the weekend through the Ministry of Labour and Employment, to inform the authorities of the decision of members to proceed with their planned strike.

The federal government and JOHESU had earlier signed a Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) last Thursday on measures to resolve their grievances.

In the MoU, both sides agreed on modalities to sort out the issues before the next meeting scheduled for September 15.

The MoU said: “In view of this understanding, JOHESU will consult with her members with a view to reporting back on Saturday, September 12, 2020. The meeting adjourns to October 15, 2020, to enable Federal Ministry of Health to carry out the assignments.”

JOHESU leaders, at the end of the meeting with the government representatives, including the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN); and Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, were given Saturday, September 12 to report back to the government’s negotiation team.

But, JOHESU in a three-paragraph letter dated September 12 with ref. No.

HO/JOHESU/ADM/FMoH/VOL.I/58, entitled: “Re: Notice of 15-day ultimatum/outcome of JOHESU expanded NEC meeting,” resolved to proceed on strike.

JOHESU’s strike declaration notice was jointly signed by the President, Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Mr. Biobelemoye Josiah; the Secretary-General, Mr. Silas Adamu; President, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Mr. A.

Adeniji; General Secretary, Mr. A. Shettima; President, Senior Staff Association of Universities Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Mr. A. B. Akintola; General Secretary, Mr. Ezekiel Popoola; President, Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAP), Mr. O. Ogbonna; and the General Secretary, Mr. Martin Egbanubi.

Others are: National President, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Mr. Hassan Makolo; and the General Secretary, Mr. Peter Adeyemi.
JOHESU had complained that many of its members were either omitted or under-paid in the implementation of Special Hazard and Inducement Allowance as agreed in the MoU of April 21, 2020.

According to JOHESU, some of its members were paid 10 per cent of their consolidated basic salary instead of 50 per cent in the MoU of April 2020.

The union also alleged that other members were omitted in the categories of those to benefit from the Special COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowance.

JOHESU added that in spite of several engagements with the Federal Ministry of Health, the anomalies were yet to be corrected as of September 10, 2020.

The strike declaration read: “You would recall that at the end of the meeting held in your office on Thursday, September 10, 2020, JOHESU demanded that the outcome of the meeting between JOHESU and the federal government be reported back to our expanded NEC meeting and give a feed back to the federal government within 48 hours.

“In the light of the above, the meeting of our expanded NEC was held today, Saturday, September 12, 2020. And at the end of the meeting, which was held both physically and virtually, it was unanimously agreed that since nothing concrete was achieved at the said meeting with the federal government, that the strike notice is still germane and alive.

“Therefore, the 15-day ultimatum still subsists and with effect from midnight of Sunday September 13, 2020, our members shall withdraw their services due to the federal government’s inability to meet their demands. Kindly accept the assurances of our high esteem.”